World Maritime Day Parallel Event, Tokyo, Japan (opening remarks)

World Maritime Day Parallel Event
Tokyo, Japan, 20-21 July 2015
“Maritime Education and Training”
Opening remarks by Koji Sekimizu, Secretary-General
International Maritime Organization

Ministers, Ambassadors, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to be here in my home country for this 2015 World Maritime Day Parallel Event. My sincere thanks go to the Government of Japan for hosting it.

The Parallel Event provides an opportunity to take the World Maritime Day theme "on the road" and it has become one of the real highlights of IMO’s year. So this year, we are in Japan, the Parallel Event flag is flying, and the event is now properly underway.

Ladies and gentlemen, our theme for World Maritime Day this year is Maritime Education and Training.

This vital topic has implications far beyond the maritime world. Global shipping, on which we all rely, is dependent on an adequate supply of properly trained seafarers. Shipping is a highly technical industry, demanding considerable skill, knowledge and expertise.

Future ships will be even more sophisticated, with more stringent safety standards and more demanding environmental requirements. Security will continue to be a key issue; and the margins of efficient and economic vessel operation will become ever tighter.

Effective standards of training are the bedrock of a sustainable shipping industry, which needs a global network of specialist education and training establishments to ensure a continuing stream of high-calibre recruits, particularly seafarers.

But this supply of manpower is by no means guaranteed. If the predicted 70 per cent increase in the global fleet occurs between now and 2030, the current number of 500,000 officers would need to be increased to 850,000.

Taking into account annual retirement, an annual training requirement for officers would be in the order of 40,000 per year.

Are those responsible for the recruitment, education and training of seafarers prepared for this challenge? Are they ready to meet this predicted demand? Is the capacity there? Are the standards sufficiently high?

These are among the questions we have been highlighting under our World Maritime Day theme this year.

Of course, IMO has a long and wide-ranging involvement in the human element of shipping.

The 1978 Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW Convention) sets the international benchmark for the training and education of seafarers.

More broadly, IMO’s Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP) provides a capacity-building framework to assist countries to enhance the skills and proficiencies needed for effective compliance with IMO treaties.

IMO’s global maritime training institutions the World Maritime University (WMU) and the IMO International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI), help maintain a flow of high-level managers, policymakers and other key personnel.

IMO is unique among UN agencies to have two affiliated educational institutions. We are very proud of WMU and IMLI and of the thousands of graduates they have produced who now hold positions of responsibility and influence across the maritime community.

Looking ahead, shipping needs a global maritime education and training infrastructure of high and consistent quality. It must be skills-based, competence-based and utilize the latest technology.

We also need to attract new generations into seafaring. Seafaring can be a rewarding and fulfilling career, providing unique opportunities to navigate the globe and encounter the wonders of the world. Marine engineering, naval architecture and maritime law also offer exciting and dynamic careers in a truly vital professional sphere. Young people need to be engaged and encouraged to see and understand these opportunities.

With this in mind, IMO has launched the IMO Maritime Ambassadors scheme, to provide promoters for the maritime and seafaring professions. Member Governments and international organizations are invited to nominate IMO Maritime Ambassadors to promote their profession and raise awareness of the positive benefits of choosing a career at sea or other maritime career.

IMO Maritime Ambassadors are encouraged to share their passion about the maritime world with others, particularly young people who are making decisions about their future. The goal is to engage, inspire and call upon young people to consider careers at sea or in the maritime industries, to bring the young into the maritime and seafaring professions.

I am very pleased that Japan will be appointing two IMO Maritime Ambassadors during this Parallel Event.

One way of attracting people to the maritime field is to draw attention to the world’s exciting maritime heritage. I have proposed that the Parallel Event host countries should highlight their own maritime heritage and I commend Japan for wholeheartedly embracing this concept. We were very privileged to enjoy the reception aboard the historic liner Hikawa Maru yesterday and I am looking forward very much to the heritage visits tomorrow in Yokohama, the city where I grew up. Japan’s new IMO Maritime Ambassadors will have a rich maritime heritage to draw on. I wish them every success and look forward to hearing about their activities.

Ladies and gentlemen, without a quality labour force, who are motivated, trained and skilled, the maritime industry cannot thrive.

This makes the importance of training and education for the maritime personnel of today and tomorrow greater than ever before. The IMO World Maritime Day – "Maritime Education and Training" has never been more timely.

Ladies and gentlemen, the special feature of this particular Parallel Event in Japan is that it is being held in conjunction with the Marine Day of the host country Japan, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the inaugural celebration of the day - 20th July. This will give an additional dimension to our Symposium, focusing on the importance of sustainable oceans without which the shipping and maritime industries would not be able to survive. I am looking forward to the positive outcomes of the discussions of the Symposium dealing with education and raising awareness of multi-disciplinary ocean issues as well. We should learn from Japan that designated the third Monday of July every year as the National Marine Day, which this year falls on the 20th July as well, and as a national holiday – even 20 years ago!

I look forward to the debate and discussion during this Symposium and once again thank Japan for hosting and organizing this Parallel Event on its Marine Day today.

Thank you.